This episode tells the story of Shantuben from Hajipar village. Shantuben’s family is the only Dalit family in entire village. Shantuben’s struggle and fight against the system expose the caste based discrimination in Indian administration system.
“The ritual of tying a “thaali” (or mangalsutra) around the woman’s neck at the marriage ceremony and considering her to be his slave is similar to buying a buffalo, tying a cord around its neck and dragging it home.
It is considered that the practice of tying a “thaali” (or mangalsutra) around a women’s neck is to provide the identity of marital status, to establish the right as someone’s wife and to prevent other men from falling in love with that woman.
If that is so, is it not essential for men also to wear a sign that identifies their marital status and prevents other women from falling in love with them?”
– Periyar, rationalist and social activist described by United Nations as the father of social reform movement and Prophet of New Age.
“A Forgotten Liberator : The Life and Struggle of Savitribai Phule”, is the first endeavour in English to spotlight upon one of the supreme names who fought against the totalitarianism of caste and other social evils in India. The book brought out by “Mountain Peak Publishers” on the life of Savitribai Phule (1831-1897) is a collection of essays written by six authors, those account the life struggle of marginalized and lower class women.
In times when even the shadow of untouchables were considered impure, when the people were unwilling to offer water to thirsty untouchables, Savitribai Phule and Mahatma Jotiba Phule shared their their house with them. It was a challenge thrown at the Brahmins to change their mindset towards untouchables. But even after almost 200 years, Dalits (untouchables) are still struggling for water rights.
In the essay “The Stuff Legends are made of” Cynthia Stephen writes “The young couple faced severe opposition from almost all sections. Savitribai was subject to intense harassment everyday as she walked to the school. Stones, mud and dirt were flung at her as she passed”.
Three letters written by Savitribai Phule to Mahatma Jotiba Phule are included in the anthology. From the letters it becomes evident that Savitribai Phule had great respect for her husband and had knowledge of all spheres of life and adept in handling difficult situations.
Sunil Sardar and Victor Paul present translations of Savitribai Phule’s five poems written in Marathi in the essay titled “Pioneering Engaged Writing”. Savitribai Phule was the first Dalit women, in-fact the first women whose poems drew attention in the British Empire. Savitribai Phule was the mother of modern poetry stressing necessity of English and education through her poems.
Read also – ‘First Lady’ Teacher of India: Savitribai Phule
The volume also contains a letter written by a eleven year old girl, Muktabai studying in Phule’s school under the chapter ‘Grief of the Mangs and Mahars’. The content of this letter is so strong for anyone to believe that this was written by a eleven year old girl. This shows the level of education and upbringing those children were getting in Phule’s school.
During the famines of 1876 – 1898, Savitribai Phule worked courageously with her husband and suggested many new ways to overcome the difficult times. They started distributing free food at many locations. She died while she was nursing a plague – affected child — she got infected while serving the affected people. Apart from the exceptionally narrated essays of all six authors there are pictures and a list of important days in the life of Savitribai Phule, which give a glimpse into the life of the great liberator.
Check also – Few poems by Savitribai Phule
Indian women are not aware of the greatness of Savitribai Phule, who dared to purse the profession of teaching in the ‘Dark Age’. She dared to speak against the unpardonable boundaries imposed on women in the Indian society, for which today’s women should be grateful to her. The book is one of its kinds and a must read for all those who believe in human rights and by those women organisations who speak a lot for women empowerment and feminism!
Braj Ranjan Mani writes:
“Savitribai Phule (1831-97), struggled and suffered with her revolutionary husband in an equal measure, but remains obscured due to casteist and sexist negligence. Apart from her identity as Jotirao Phule’s wife, she is little known even in academia. Modern India’s first woman teacher, a radical exponent of mass and female education, a champion of women’s liberation, a pioneer of engaged poetry, a courageous mass leader who took on the forces of caste and patriarchy certainly had her independent identity and contribution. It is indeed a measure of the ruthlessness of elite-controlled knowledge-production that a figure as important as Savitribai Phule fails to find any mention in the history of modernIndia. Her life and struggle deserves to be appreciated by a wider spectrum, and made known to non-Marathi people as well.”
Not many people know that Dr. Ambedkar always worked hard to uplift the situation of women in Indian society. Here are few of the less known quote/ideas/thoughts/work from Dr. Ambedkar on women empowerment. To celebrate Women’s Day without recognizing the contribution of Dr. Ambedkar, Savitribai Phule, and Mahatma Jotiba Phule is hypocrisy and shameful act.
Check also – Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s fight for women’s rights
On 15th May, 1936 Babasaheb Ambedkar published Annihilation Of Caste book. Dr. Ambedkar was scheduled to deliver this speech to a conference in Lahore, but could not. The conference organizers cancelled his invitation as they felt the contents of the speech were too radical for the time. Dr. Ambedkar later released the speech in written format, and it became one of his most famous work – title, ‘The Annihilation of Caste’. In this work, Dr. Ambedkar discussed the problems in ending the caste system in India, and how those problems could be countered.
If you’d like to read the text, Columbia University in the City of New York has designed a special e-text format of the speech for easy readability and cross-referencing at http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/ambedkar/web/index.html
Everyone on Twitter and Facebook is busy welcoming Obama to India. Here is my welcome to Mr. President.
Welcome to India – the land of caste system.
Welcome to India – where we didn’t invent anything but founded caste system that has killed millions of people since invented.
Welcome to India – where we don’t allow fellow human beings to enter the same temples and where we worship animals and plants but mistreat fellow human beings.
Welcome to India – where Dalit kids at schools are forced to do toilet cleaning work.
Welcome to India – where Dalit students in schools are purified by sprinkling cow urine on them.
Welcome to India – where Dalit women are seen and treated as only sex objects.
Welcome to India – where Dalit people are killed just because they had same name as some upper caste people had.
Welcome to India – where Dalit homes are separated by walls in the villages.
Welcome to India – where Dalits have to remove their shoes while passing in front of upper caste homes.
Welcome to India – where Dalit students’ scholarships aren’t issued on time.
Welcome to India – where Dalit homes are burnt daily, just because they are Dalit.
Welcome to India – where food cooked by Dalit women isn’t accepted by so called upper caste students.
Welcome to India – where Dalit kids are made to sit separately in schools.
Welcome to India – where Dalit women are paraded naked, raped and forced to commit suicide.
Welcome to India – where Dalits are offered menial jobs and exploited at workplaces.
Welcome to India – where Dalit students seats at colleges are filled by upper castes having fake Dalit certificates.
Welcome to India – where Dalit students seats in colleges are left unfilled.
Welcome to India – where there are separate barber shops for Dalits.
Welcome to India – where Dalits have to sip tea from separate tea cups.
Welcome to India – where there appear caste wise columns in matrimonial pages.
Welcome to India – where Dalits have to wait for years to get justice in courts.
Welcome to India – where Dalits are shown as degraded characters in movies.
Welcome to India – where Dalits have separate office timings.
Welcome to India – where to Dalits’ home there is no postal delivery, just because upper caste Postman don’t want to go there.
Welcome to India – where Dalits and Muslims are denied renting homes, even in metro cities.
Welcome to India – where Dalit and Muslim are kept in jails for years without any crime.
Welcome to India – where shankracharyas are caught for the involvement in rapes, murders and killings.
Welcome to India – where there are still thousands of devidasis (temple prostitutes).
Welcome to India – where Dalits are forced to work as manual scavengers.
Welcome to India – where statues of Dalit leaders are maligned or destroyed.
Welcome to India – where 21 Dalits were slaughtered by the Ranvir Sena in Bathani Tola, Bhojpur in Bihar and no justice was delivered ever.
Welcome to India – where 23 Dalits were massacred in Jehanabad (Bihar) by Ranvir Sena and no justice was delivered.
Welcome to India – where Kherlanji, Badaun etc massacres happened.
Welcome to India – where police can rape innocent girls and still be free.
Welcome to India – where Melavalavn massacre, TN, happened. 6 Dalits were killed by so called upper caste people.
Welcome to India – where 16 Dalits were killed in Muthanya incident, Kerala.
Welcome to India – where 58 innocent Dalits were killed at Laxmanpur Bathe, Bihar and no justice was delivered.
Welcome to India – where Bant Singh case of Punjab happened.
Welcome to India – where 42 innocent Dalits were killed in Kilvenmani massacre, TN, by the gang of upper caste landlords.
Welcome to India – where Dalits are boycotted in villages.
Welcome to India – where Dalits change their names/surnames to escape caste discrimination.
Welcome to India – where Dalit kids are forced to play in separate play grounds.
Welcome to India – where job openings come with – ‘Dalits need not to apply’.
Welcome to India – where Dalits, Muslims can’t buy flats in a colony and ads come with – ‘only for Brahmins’.
The list of atrocities and crimes committed against Dalits and minorities is endless… Welcome to the real India!
धकेलकर गांव से बाहर कर दिया जाय
पानी तक न लेने दिया जाय कुएं से
दुत्कारा फटकारा जाय चिल-चिलाती दोपहर में
कहा जाय तोड़ने को पत्थर
काम के बदले
दिया जाय खाने को जूठन
तब तुम क्या करोगे?
मरे जानवर को खींचकर
ले जाने के लिए कहा जाय
कहा जाय ढोने को
पूरे परिवार का मैला
पहनने को दी जाय उतरन
तब तुम क्या करोगे ?
पुस्तकों से दूर रखा जाय
जाने नहीं दिया जाय
विद्या मंदिर की चौखट तक
ढिबरी की मंद रोशनी में
काली पुती दीवारों पर
ईसा की तरह टांग दिया जाय
तब तुम क्या करोगे?
Please spread it.